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WeekWise: Three and Four

We are officially a third of the way through #bayoustartupsummer! Time is flying, and the Owls and Aggies (and Coogs!) are working hard to stay on track. While founders’ biggest focus right now is customer interviews, there are so many moving parts to launching your own business and life as an entrepreneur. Such is #startuplife, am I right?

Additionally, founders delved into many new topics over the past two weeks, including:
  • Positioning your startup in the competitive landscape;
  • Sales: understanding the process, including strategies for selling various types of products to businesses and/or consumers;
  • Exploring channels and go-to-market strategies: how to reach your customer, plus strategies for gaining and measuring traction;
  • Pretotyping and techniques for testing and validating an idea quickly using minimal resources—before investing time and money into prototypes; and
  • Legal considerations around trademarks and data privacy.
It takes a village to raise a startup—and at OwlSpark, it is no different. Our gratitude and kudos to our village, our speakers and subject matter experts who took time to dish out information, advice, and perspective over the past two weeks:
Brittany Barreto
Femtech Focus
Capital Factory

Jamieson Becker

Lance Black
TMC Innovation

Ed Blair
University of Houston

Read Boles
Southwest Shipyard

Tanu Chatterji
University of Houston 

Will Clifton

Dave Cook
Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship

Barry Creighton
QRE Tax Services

Briana Falcon
Vinson & Elkins

Chris Fisher
HR&P Companies

Alex de la Fuente
Spacecraft Brands

Gray Hancock
Decisio Health

Parker Hancock
Vinson & Elkins

Kaz Karwowski
Rice Center for Engineering Leadership

Oksana Malysheva
Sputnik ATX
Deborah Mansfield
Deborah Mansfield Business Services

Elise McCutcheon
Rice University

Matt Melancon
Vinson & Elkins

Joe Merrill
Sputnik ATX

Vaughn Miller
Vinson & Elkins

Jeff Myers
Michigan State University

Paul O'Brien
MediaTech Ventures

Matthew Peña
OwlSpark Class 3 & 6

Emily Reiser
TMC Innovation

Peggy Shaw
Rice University

Brian Shedd
University of Houston

Steve Wilbur
University of Houston

Adam Wulf
Milestone Made

Jacques Zaneveld
Lazarus 3D

Smriti Zaneveld
Lazarus 3D

TeamWise: FirstGen Solutions

A primary concern for expecting mothers is the safety of their unborn child. When taking prescription and OTC drugs, it is imperative to ensure that they will not cause an adverse reaction, potentially endangering the health of the baby. FirstGen Solutions scans for fetal drug interaction in the first stages of life using human embryonic stem cells to model human brain formation. Their platform informs pharma companies on the toxicity interaction of drugs. If drugs pass the test, consumers receive notice that it’s safe to take while pregnant.

PeopleWise: Gray Hancock

A graduate of Washington & Lee University and Rice University, Gray Hancock, started his career focused on qualitative finance. After a few years in consulting, Gray transitioned to operations, serving as head of trade and investment for UKTI as well as director of operations for biotechnology company DNAtrix. Today he is the co-founder and COO of Decisio Health, providing software for healthcare professionals, enabling accelerated interventions and improved patient outcomes. Decisio Health offers DECISIOIntel, and DECISIOInsight®, the first web native software to be cleared by the FDA as a Class II medical device.

AlumniWise: Barolac

Barolac (Class 6) developed a point-of-care device to objectively measure an infant’s ability to transfer milk and nurse successfully. Early detection allows providers and mothers to correct feeding deficits in newborns and track improvements. They are currently:
  • Developing an IRB protocol for a pilot study in collaboration with an OB/GYN at UT Health.
  • Readying hardware for real-time intraoral pressure monitoring in the study, optimized for fast transmission and lower power consumption.
  • Outlining the FDA regulatory pathway for the Barolac device with Proxima Clinical Research, Inc.

WordWise: Overhead at OwlSpark

“Hit them with the Kareems-ma.”

“I felt like I was in the rapture. People started disappearing.”

“Yes…library man?”

“You don't have to remind an investor they're an investor. Instead, ask for advice.”

“Your actions will be remembered. Be a good human.”

“Biggest learning: don't talk to recruiters.”

“Maybe sometime we can get together and have an organfest.”
“He's trying to sell himself.”

“Let’s not talk about the pants right now.”

“Anyone here use toothpaste? It’s a scam.”

“It's not expensive. It just costs a lot.”

“Price is not meaningful until value is established.”

“This is going to be a long-term process.”

“I thought it was Metatron talking.”
“Lol! Sorry, that’s just my voice.”

“I’ve never married someone who wasn’t my business partner.”


What do you do to improve your mood when you are in a bad mood?

Shots. Or vaccuum. It's a toss-up.
Music & trampoline jumping
Get a coffee
Take a nap
Eat comfort food and exercise. Not at the same time though.
I run to improve my mood, it gets the blood flowing and I forget why I’m angry.
Mindfulness and meditation
If you had intro music, what song would it be?

“I’m Still Standing” — Elton John
“Staying Alive” — Bee Gees
“New Light” — John Mayer
“Free Fallin’” — Tom Petty
“Mii Channel (Nintendo Wii)” — The Oneups
“X Gon’ Give It To Ya” — DMX
“Thunderstruck” — AC/DC
“We Will Rock You” — Queen
Any song by Fall Out Boy.
Probably Justin Bieber because I’m into self-deprecating humor.